Be mindful with your giving this season
You may have noticed your email inbox being inundated with requests for you to support causes ranging from arts installations to cancer research. This time of year, nonprofits step up their fundraising efforts in order to fully participate in the giving spirit of the season. While the majority of these are noteworthy and admirable charities, keep these wise tips in mind to help ensure that campaigns you want to support are credible.
- Is the cause appealing to your emotions with imagery of children or animals? Sometimes scams take advantage of emotional messaging.
- If you are solicited via telephone, be sure to get all of the charity’s information, including their tax ID number, in order to perform due diligence on websites like GuideStar.
- A good indicator of a charity’s efficacy and credibility is the proportion of funds that is spent on programming. Look at the organization’s annual report, or check out websites like CharityNavigator that provide free financial information on many of the country’s top charities.
- If you believe that the solicitation may be coming from a suspicious source, it may be worthwhile to contact the organization directly to ensure that they are aware of the campaign that contacted you.
- Don’t provide financial information such as credit cards or bank accounts over the phone if you’re unsure about the organization.
- The best ways to donate are by check (made payable to the charity) or by credit card (online through a secure service), as opposed to cash, which is easily misplaced or stolen.
Performing items on the checklist will help you sidestep “avoidable mistakes" that can come back to haunt you. If you have any questions about these tips, or to learn more about how CAAP can assist you in due diligence procedures, please feel free to contact us.
Image credit: Cyra R. Cancel
CAAP’S 2011 Holiday Gift Guide!
December always seems to involve a bit of a frenzied rush to prepare for holiday and year-end festivities. Often we forget to relax and enjoy the spirit of the season, which is why we at CAAP wish to highlight some of the exciting programs that our grantee partners have been developing this year. Each year, CAAP grants funds out to several dynamic Arab American arts and culture, human services, and advocacy organizations. Whether or not you are local to the happenings highlighted below, there is something for lovers of culture at all ages!
1) To ring in the season, this Thursday (December 17) the Arab Cultural and Community Center (ACCC) in San Francisco will feature Georges Lamman at their Holiday Reception and Open House. Lamman is the director of the Georges Lamman Ensemble: the highly-regarded Arab American musical group, featuring a diverse array of Middle Eastern melodies. The ACCC is a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting Arab art and culture, and enriching the lives of the Arab American community through culturally focused social services, and by promoting cross-cultural events to all residents of the Bay Area and beyond.
2) Why not brush up on your Arabic classes from ALIF Insitute in Atlanta, GA? The Alif Institute fosters the understanding and appreciation of Arab culture through education, and cultural and arts programming.
3) DVDs of the films featured in the Arab Film Festival (AFF) in CA, or the Boston Palestine Film Festival (BPFF) in MA. The AFF enhances public understanding of Arab culture and provides alternative representations of Arabs by screening films from and about the Arab World that provide realistic perspectives on Arab people, culture, art, history and politics. The BPFF is now in its fifth year of showcasing the diverse and creative work of all filmmakers that explore both historic and contemporary themes related to Palestinian culture, experience, and narrative.
4) How about lessons learning the oud or tabla (Arabic lute and drum)? They’re available at the Center for Arabic Culture (CAC) in Boston! CAC promotes Arabic culture in all of its regional and historic varieties and links to other cultures in an open, democratic, and humanistic way.
5) Alwan For the Arts in NYC is featuring “Rhythms and Dances of North Africa and the Middle East" starting January 14th! Alwan organizes film festivals and screenings, book/poetry readings and signings, lectures and conferences, art exhibits, musical and theatrical performances, and language and literature classes - all to promote the diverse cultures of Arab countries.
Thank you to all our grantee organizations for another great year celebrating and spreading Arab American culture!
P.S. As a bonus, please remember to check out the store at our sister program, the Arab American National Museum, for great Middle Eastern holiday gifts!
Giving Circles: A Small Amount, For A Larger Impact
Part of a Philanthropy A-Z series
There are instances where a downturned economy can offer new and innovative solutions to issues that we face. Even though many of us are tightening our own wallets, social problems and worthy causes do not decline. Giving circles are a growing form of philanthropy that offer solutions to social causes, while not financially overburdening those that want to support those causes.
Members of giving circles collectively pool their funds, learn about community needs, and together determine where and how their gifts are granted. A giving circle’s strength is in the collective power of its resources and ideas, not in one person solely.
Inspired by Oseola McCarty’s generous gift to Southern Mississippi University, a group of women in New Orleans formed the Zawadi giving circle. Remarkably, McCarty was not a wealthy woman, and gave away a large portion of her life savings to a cause that she deemed worthy. Zawadi continues to replicate the spirit of McCarty’s generosity, by requiring that members contribute a minimum of $100 a year to their collective pool, and to causes of their choosing, such as aiding victims of Hurricane Katrina.
At CAAP, the Bustan Al-Funun giving circle was recently formed by a group of women interested in supporting causes that present Arab world or Arab American arts in the United States. For more information on the benefits of giving circles, or to inquire about starting one through CAAP, please visit our website.
Photo Credit: Time.com
5 Ways To Make Your Family’s Thanksgiving a Little More Philanthropic
Thanksgiving presents a perfect time to share ideas with family and friends about how best to achieve your desired charitable outcomes during the holidays. Forbes Magazine has some great tips about leveraging this season of thanks to align with your strategic philanthropic goals:
- Make the dinner table a charitable roundtable: Assemble all of the appeals you’ve been receiving in the mail and online. Each family member can give opinions on which cause they feel most strongly about contributing to this year.
- Discuss your legacy plans: The wonderful thing about philanthropy is its potential for a lasting impact. What do you want to be remembered for? Your close circle can provide a great forum for sharing which causes are closest to your heart, and for which you will be remembered.
- Involve future philanthropists!: Engaging youth in philanthropic decisions is a great way to cultivate a culture of giving within your own family group. Children and teens can give fresh insight to your holiday giving, and you might consider setting aside funds for which the kids can give to causes of their choosing.
- Develop a family mission statement: Encourage everyone to write down their philanthropic vision, and combine all of the missives into one cohesive statement for your family’s giving practices. Eg. “Protecting wildlife” or “Fighting for social justice.”
- Reinforce the true message of the holiday season: Even though many of us are gearing up for midnight Black Friday sales, it is important to reiterate that the true message of the holiday season is not about vapid consumerism, but about aligning your values with your spending practices to support the causes that you and your loved ones care about most.
As 57% of Americans plan on giving to charitable causes this year, these tips offer a good framework for getting a jump on your philanthropic strategy this season.
From everyone at CAAP, we’d like to wish you and your family a warm and welcoming Thanksgiving!
Photo credit: Martin Cathrae
Raising Money From Arab Americans - Recap
This past Tuesday, Nov 15, National Philanthropy Day, CAAP was very proud to participate in a Chronicle of Philanthropy discussion highlighting how organizations can target their fundraising towards Arab American donors. It was an honor for CAAP to connect with a national audience directly to answer questions about Arab American philanthropy.
Participants in the discussion included CAAP Advisory Board member Wadad Abed, as well as Jeanette Mansour, adviser to CAAP and program consultant at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. More than 65 people, including representatives from ISPU and the Headwaters Group, tuned in to the live discussion to ask questions, post comments, and learn more about Arab American philanthropy from our experts.
Some of the questions raised included inquiries about giving patterns, culturally sensitive cause marketing, religious distinctions, the presence of family/community foundations and cultural traditions. To read the discussion transcript, click here.
East Coast Travels
Each year, ATFP honors the contributions of Palestinian Americans who have enriched their community and provided great service or unique achievement in the U.S. In addition to her efforts spearheading the creation of CAAP - a national program based on a community foundation model that leverages the collective giving of Arab Americans - ATFP recognized Freij for the key role she played in raising funds to create the nation’s only Arab American National Museum.
Following the award ceremony in Washington D.C., Freij traveled to Boston to visit two of CAAP’s grantees - Center for Arabic Culture (CAC) and the Boston Palestine Film Festival. Freij was very impressed by the 5th Annual Boston Palestine Film Festival, saying that in particular, “the program celebrating the legacy of Edward Said on Oct. 22 was excellent. I really enjoyed the performances by Palestinian students at Berklee’s College of Music.” While in Boston, Freij also attended a reception hosted at CAC where she discussed CAAP’s mission with members of the Boston Arab American community.
Dire Food for Thought: Somalia’s Ongoing Famine
In late August of this year, CAAP encouraged the Arab American community and beyond to give what resources they could to help assuage the growing humanitarian disaster in the Horn of Africa - specifically Somalia. Two months on, the situation is just as harrowing and complicated as ever.
One.org reports that 30,000 children have died in three months (April-July) of Somalia’s famine, caused in part by the worst drought in 60 years, as well as more than 20 years of civil war.
Currently, 13 million people are at risk of starvation. The situation has only been made worse in recent weeks by abductions of tourists and aid workers in Kenya, and heightened tensions between the militant group Al-Shabaab and the Kenyan government. The devastation will certainly take time to alleviate, and can be helped along by access to clean water and food, better irrigation, and improved medical care in the region.
Fortunately, we can all help provide some of the basic survival necessities to those suffering, including thousands of Somali women and children. If you’d like to contribute, please visit CAAP’s website for our recommendations of international aid agencies that are actively combating Somalia’s current crisis. All of the organizations that we have listed have a solid track record of working effectively in the Horn of Africa.
Sustained Strategic Giving
The Carnegie Corporation of New York is currently celebrating a “Century of Philanthropy.” Read more about Andrew Carnegie, the man who inspired a century of strategic philanthropy, at the American Libraries Magazine or watch the Carnegie Corporation’s video on Vimeo.
Scottish immigrant Andrew Carnegie pioneered the ideas of strategic philanthropy and grantmaking as an investment for the long term growth of communities. Today, CAAP applies these same principles to empower the Arab American community. In addition, the Carnegie Corporation invests in immigrant rights and has been an important partner to our friends at the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) since 2004.
To learn more about how CAAP can assist with your planned giving, contact us.
Center for Arab American Philanthropy
2651 Saulino Ct.
Dearborn, MI 48120